Franklin Park’s White Stadium and William J. Devine Golf Course are proposed as 2024 Boston Olympics venues in bid documents finally revealed today by Boston 2024.
The plans include hosting various events in a renovated stadium, and temporarily turning the golf course into a cross-country horse-race course.
Based on the work involved and a similar venue’s experience at the London 2012 Games, that likely would mean shutting those sections of the park from public access for several months and possibly much longer. The renovated stadium would remain for later public use, and presumably the golf course would be restored or somehow improved.
The bid proposes using White Stadium to house various horse events and the pentathlon, as well as identifying it as a back-up venue for archery. In addition, the stadium is pegged as a horse venue for the Paralympic Games, which follow the main Olympics by about two weeks.
It appears a main entrance to the Olympics events would be in the White Stadium area, which abuts the Parkside and Egleston Square sub-neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain. There is no discussion about what the security arrangements, which have been heavy at recent Olympics, might be like.
The City of Boston either owns or effectively controls the proposed venues. However, Franklin Park is a historic park and part of the Emerald Necklace, and such alterations typically would require a vast array of government approvals, probably including a vote of the full state legislature. The bid documents indicate that Boston 2024 would seek “omnibus state legislation to coordinate permitting” such work. The bid speaks more generally of seeking special “Olympics legislation” to either avoid or speed up the usual zoning and construction permitting processes for the entire Games.
Franklin Park has a vast constituency of users and fans, including the Franklin Park Coalition, that have been left out of the planning process. It remains unclear whether Boston 2024 will conduct any specific talks with them. Boston 2024 is holding a general public meeting about its bid tonight at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Boston 2024 President Dan O’Connell previously told the Gazette that if there is local opposition to the Olympic use of the park, other venues would be found. However, while the bid documents include alternative sites for many sports, there are no alternative venues listed for the horse events in either White Stadium or on the golf course. There is an alternative listed for the pentathlon.
The bid documents released today, which reportedly omit unidentified “proprietary information,” are available at 2024boston.org/docs.